Owl and the Electric Samurai by Kristi Charish

I received this novel as an advanced copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

When I began to read this novel, I had no idea that it was part of a series. I wish I had known because it would have explained away a lot of the confusion I was feeling when I was reading. Anyways, here is my review:

Owl is an antiquities thief who reluctantly navigates the hidden supernatural world. And she is in for another adventure. The International Archaeology Association (IAA) is responsible for keeping all things supernatural hidden… but they are also the ones responsible for ruining Owl’s archaeology career. Needless to say, Owl’s still a little sore about that. But now, the IAA has a bounty out for the 2 designed of World Quest, an online RPG that is a whole lot more than it seems. Owl needs to find the gamers before the other mercenaries do … but when every clue points to them hiding in the legendary lost city of Shangri-La. Not only does Owl have to deal with competitors, she also finds herself dragged into a game of wits with someone who calls himself the Electric Samurai. The stakes are high, especially when losing means an all-out civil war between 2 powerful supernatural factions.

I felt that I was really at a disadvantage when it came to this novel because of my lack of knowledge on this series and the characters. There was a lot going on and not everything made sense. You definitely need to read this series in order in order to really understand and appreciate all that is going on. I’ve decided not to rate this book or post my review on Goodreads because I don’t think any of my comments would be a fair assessment of this novel since I didn’t do my due diligence and read this series properly. I would recommend this novel to anyone who is a fan of this series or is looking to start a new urban fantasy/supernatural series!

Happy reading ~

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Visions by Kelley Armstrong – Cainsville #2

It’s been a while since I read Omens by this author but I really enjoyed that foray into urban fantasy. I hadn’t planned on waiting so long to read the sequel but … life … happens. Anyways, I finally got around to it so here is my review:

In Omens, Olivia Taylor-Jones discovers that she is the daughter of notorious serial killers. She finds an ally in Gabriel Walsh, a selfish, morally ambiguous lawyer. Together, they were able to find a devious killer and partially cleared Olivia’s parents from their crimes. Their success, however, doesn’t last long. While Olivia continues to take refuge in Cainsville, Gabriel’s past comes back to haunt both of them.

When Olivia finds a dead woman in her car, dressed just like her, she is shocked. What makes it worse is that the body disappears before anyone else sees it. Olivia is convinced it’s another omen. But when she learns that a real young woman went missing just a few days ago, it makes Olivia question whether the body she saw was just a simple omen – or a message. Who would have left this kind of warning and why? As Olivia tries to uncover the truth, she finds herself in the crosshairs of old and powerful forces that have their own agenda and secrets.

It took me a while to get into this novel because I couldn’t really remember what had happened. But after just a chapter or two, everything started to fall into place. It helped that the author provided recaps of important events from the first book to help set the tone for this novel. Again, we are thrown into a murder mystery that has some supernatural elements to it. I liked that the novel actually managed to answer some of the underlying questions that I had had from before. She also added a whole host of new elements that led to more questions. I will say that there is a whole new level of romance seen in this book that I was not expecting so …. readers be prepared! The dynamic between Olivia and Gabriel gets better in this novel and you really start to admire their witty friendship. One of the things that made me really happy about this novel is that the supernatural elements of the story were a lot more visible, even though it still maintained its main murder mystery plot; what drew me to the series in the first place was a promise of fantasy, and the author definitely delivered on that account. Overall, this is a novel filled with intrigue, supernatural forces, and an interesting murder mystery. If you liked Omens, you will definitely enjoy Visions!

Happy reading ~

Hell’s Doctor by Lee F. Jordan

I received this novel as an advanced copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I’m always in search for the next great thing in horror. You’d be surprised how hard it is to find good horror stories these days. I know Stephen King is the King of Horror but for some reason, I’ve always found it hard to get into any of his stories. I will definitely give Stephen King another go this year, but until then, I’m going to look for what else is out there. I was quite excited to receive this novel from NetGalley…. so here is my review:

With the latest death, Hell gets a new Doctor, one who is utterly without remorse. Best – or perhaps, worst – of all, he knows the secrets of the portal. As he is pitted against vicious serial killers and psychopaths, he is determined to gain access to the portal. “There are only three kinds of pain: physical, such as cutting through the bone marrow of a prisoner’s leg with a dull hacksaw; emotional, such as torturing a prisoner’s family slowly; or psychological, which destroys the hope of the mind.” – Hell’s Doctor Edict

Unfortunately, I was unable to finish this novel. It just made no sense. The author’s writing style made it really confusing to follow along with the action, and there was a constant change-up of characters that added to the confusion. The descriptions of the setting weren’t enough for me to understand the world that was being created. Overall, I just felt like I had stumbled into something that was half-baked. Like I mentioned, I didn’t finish this novel; maybe it gets better as you go along! However, I’m just going to pass on this one.

Happy reading ~

 

The Witches of New York by Ami McKay

I love Ami McKay. Pretty much every book I have read by her has been thought-provoking, and intense. I expected no less of this novel of hers. I was especially excited by the magic angle; I’m going through a fantasy/supernatural phase right now so this was perfect timing for me!

1880 is a dangerous time for women. In Manhattan, there are many on the lookout for witches, and any intelligent woman (witch or no) who speaks her mind is in danger of being accused of witchcraft. During times like these, Adelaide Thom and Eleanor St. Clair set up their tea shop, where they cater to the elite ladies of Manhattan, in the form of tea… as well as through palmistry and potions. Their shop is heavily frequented as both Adelaide and Eleanor are known for their discretion. All is well until one bright September day when a young woman named Beatrice Dunn arrives at the shop looking for employment. Beatrice soon wins over Eleanor and becomes a valuable apprentice, but Beatrice’s new life is filled with strange occurrences, especially once it becomes clear that she can see and hear things that no one else can. Has she somehow gained magical skills or is she simply losing her mind? Eleanor wants to air on the side of caution but Adelaide sees this as a wonderful new business venture. However, things go awry quickly and Beatrice is put in danger. In a time when being a woman is the most dangerous thing in the world, will these three witches survive?

As usual, the story was spell-binding and filled with wonderful intricate details. I really liked how the author had newspaper articles and pamphlets inserted into the story to help build the setting up. This is a very feminist-oriented novel that sheds light on the plight of women in the 1800s, during a time when being forthright and asserting one’s rights were frowned upon. The blend of history with magic was masterfully done and quite enjoyable to read. I did find that the story moved at a slower pace than what I am used to by this author, but the tension was palpable throughout and it kept me going all the way until the end. There were certain story plots that I felt could have been explored in greater depth, but overall this story was very good, and I was pleased with my experience! Here’s to more novels by Ami McKay!

Happy reading ~

Eleventh Grave in Moonlight by Darynda Jones – Charley Davidson #11

I received this novel from NetGalley as an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

When I received this book, I had no idea that it was part of a series. I have never read anything by Darynda Jones, and other than knowing that this story had supernatural elements to it, I had no clue what to expect. While I struggled to get through this novel, let it be known that it was because of my lack of knowledge rather than the actual story, which was quite entertaining! Here is my review:

Charley Davidson works as a part-time PI and a full-time Grim Reaper. Her typical day involves cheating husbands, locating missing people…. and dealing with demons, evil gods, and lots and lots of dead people. Charley’s life is tumultuous to say the least … and it doesn’t seem to be getting any less so! Charley is trying to embrace her new identity as a goddess with all sorts of interesting powers, while also realizing that her daughter has been born to save the world from complete destruction. However, the forces of hell are determined to see Charley banished to the darkest corners of another dimension. Thankfully, Charley has the son of Satan on her side, as her husband and amazing lover. Maybe this time, Charley can finally have her very own happy ending.

As I mentioned before, I have not read a single book in the series. Let me warn future readers by saying that this is not a novel you can just pick up in random order. To get the best experience, you need to start at the beginning and see the story through to the end. Since I don’t have the time to do that, I can’t really comment too much on how well this story stands up when compared to its predecessors. With that being said, I CAN comment on the writing style and story flair, both of which were fantastic! The author’s writing style reminded me a lot of the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich; it is funny and action-packed! Charley is a hilarious character who is both shallow and genuine at the same time. I liked her spunky attitude and her overall behaviour in every scene. The way the story opened up caught my attention right away, and even as I struggled to get through with my lack of background knowledge, I couldn’t help but admire the storytelling itself. I definitely wish I had read the previous books in this series because they seem like they would be a lot of fun! If you are looking for a new urban fantasy series with a good dose of romance and humor, check this one out! But like I said, start with book 1!

Happy reading ~

Blood Divine by Greg Howard

I received this novel as an advanced copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

YAY VAMPIRES!!!! As usual, I got super excited when I read the blurb for this novel. Vampires and witches and biblical connections… it’s got everything I’ve ever wanted all rolled into one. And if you haven’t already noticed, I read a lot of fantasy/paranormal/science fiction stories! So here is my review:

Cooper Causey has spent his entire life trying to stay away from his hometown in South Carolina, with its demons and supernatural forces. As it is, it’s all he can do to control his own powers that resides deep within him. But when his grandmother leaves a panicked voicemail to Cooper, he knows he must return. And when he does, it is only to discover that his childhood home is empty – his grandmother is now missing. As Cooper searches for her, he uncovers the truth behind his peculiar ancestry and finds himself a pawn in the middle of an ancient war between two supernatural forces. And the only way to protect those he loves is to embrace his own dark powers and choose the “right” side in this epic battle.

This novel has received a great deal of positive reviews, which, frankly, I’m quite surprised by. It isn’t that this novel is terrible … but I didn’t think it was very good either. The story was fast-paced…. a bit too fast-paced, in my opinion. Things were happening so quickly and not enough of a background was being established. There was just a very simple summary of the existence of these two supernatural races; I felt that there could have been more detail, more discovery about the origins and just a little bit more time for the reader to digest all of the connections. While it was still interesting, the origin seemed too simplistic for me to enjoy.

The main character was funny and foolhardy and definitely in love with his childhood friend. I didn’t mind any of those things. What I did mind was the constant reference to these powers that he apparently has had since he was a child, which he has kept hidden. There were very brief mentions of how it manifested in his childhood, and throughout the entire story, any mention of his abilities made me feel like I was missing out on some crucial detail that everyone else seemed to know.

I love reading about different characters. But there is such a thing as too many characters, especially when they are all thrown into the mix helter-skelter. With every forward movement in the story, there were other characters being introduced. And because of the fast pace and the barrage of new personas, I felt like I didn’t really get a deeper look into each character. Maybe that’s what the author wanted, maybe it was meant to just be taken at face value with nothing deeper going on, but I prefer my characters to have more to them than just what meets the eye.

Overall, this novel overwhelmed me with its rapid pace and its cast of characters. It underwhelmed me with its lack of depth in origin stories and its simplistic and stereotypical plot twists. If you are looking for a quick supernatural story with lots of action, then check this novel out. But if it is depth you want, then look somewhere else.

Happy reading ~

 

 

The Arranged Trilogy by Julia Crane

I received this novel as an advanced copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

This novel is unusual in that it is a set of novellas that have come together in one book. I read the premise of this trilogy and was immediately intrigued, so I was happy to receive this set. I also liked the fact that it was all complete and I didn’t have to wait for the next book in the series. Anyways, here is my review:

Through the help of the fae, Magick has been restored on Earth. But it is not enough to keep the planet alive. With its destruction looming ahead, the Queen of the fae sends her daughter, Princess Tulupea to mate with a human boy named Michael, as it has been foretold that this will save the planet. At a time when humans and fae fight against each other, it is up to Michael and Tulupea to save their worlds, all the while falling in love with each other.

Unfortunately, I could not make myself finish this trilogy. What I had anticipated as teen fiction turned out to be far more juvenile. The language, dialogue, and characters are immature to the point where I was cringing with every word I read. The story was obvious, with nothing new to add. The main character is by far the most annoying protagonist I have ever read about; all she did was complain and act spoiled. I just couldn’t take this novel seriously, especially when the author began talking about DNA splicing. All in all, this novel failed on many levels for me, and I would recommend this to pre-teen or very young teens.

Happy reading ~

Crescent Moon by James Fahy – Phoebe Harkness #2

I received this novel as an advanced copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

I loved the first novel in this series so much, and I am so excited to have had the chance to review this novel as well. With such an interesting protagonist, and such a unique storyline, it was all I could do to finish off my work at the lab and curl up with this book!

In a world where Genetic Others like vampires and werewolves try to coexist with humans, life can be … complicated. Phoebe Harkness, a scientist, tries to stay neutral in the ongoing fights between all of the different factions, especially once she is named as liaison between the Genetic Others and the Cabal, the ruling institution of New Oxford. Her first mission? To negotiate with the Tribals, a group of werewolves that live like nomads. But before she can make any headway, she learns of a series of murders, with signs showing that it was the handiwork of Tribals. The Tribal leader, Kane, insists that his people are not a part of this… and Phoebe believes him. Phoebe, along with her friends, must get to the bottom of these horrific killings – before all hell breaks loose and another war begins.

Just as with the first novel in this series, I fell in love with the story line and the main character. Phoebe continues to be my favorite character of all time, with her witty, humorous remarks, and her penchant for danger. All of the other characters stay stable, keeping the same dynamics as with the first novel. I liked that this story introduced werewolves while still sticking to the main overarching story from the first book. However, there were parts of the story that left me wanting more. I wanted more of a buildup of the backstory, I wanted more depth to the evil characters, I wanted Phoebe to probe deeper into the mysteries and ask more questions. I felt like there were a lot of things that were left loose-ended, and I have no idea if the author will be addressing any of them in the next book. While I still laughed and was drawn to my seat, the story didn’t feel complete and I was just a tad bit disappointed with how some things were just written off. The antagonist continues to have really cheesy dialogue, which makes it hard for me to take the plot seriously. Hopefully that will be improved in the next novel. I enjoyed the science aspects, and there was definitely more biology in this book than in the previous one – and it was ACCURATE!!!! All in all, this was a good sequel that got me pumped, and I am eager to read the next installment!

Happy reading ~

 

Hell’s Teeth by James Fahy – Phoebe Harkness #1

Why did I decide to read this novel? Well, I received the sequel on NetGalley without realizing, and I knew that in order to give a proper review, I would have to read the first book in the series. Otherwise it would not have made any sense. Also, I have always been particular about reading novels in order, whenever possible. Anyways, I went on the hunt for the first book. And trust me when I say that it was NOT easy. My local bookstore does not carry this book. My library does not carry this book. Amazon wouldn’t ship this book. Finally, I gave in and created a Kindle account and downloaded the book through Kindle Unlimited. While it was a hassle to get to this novel, after reading it, I must admit that it was worth the effort!

The world has gone through a war that it could never have imagined. Humans created a monster, The Pale, a subhuman, vampire-like killing machine that was supposed to become a military weapon. But when they lost control, it took every single person – both human AND non-human to band together to fight against these aberrations. 30 years after this war, humankind now reluctantly coexists with Genetic Others, a group of many subspecies. It is an uneasy truce that is controlled by the government influence of the Cabal, a powerful organization. But when Phoebe Harkness, a scientist, receives a phone call in the middle of the night, she realizes that the world she has lived in is not as peaceful as she once believed. She reaches her lab, only to discover that her supervisor has gone missing – and all that is left of her is her teeth. Phoebe finds herself going undercover to find out who is behind this atrocious crime, and what their motive is. But she must be careful, lest she become that person’s prey herself.

This novel reminded me of the Sookie Stackhouse series with its descriptions of vampire clubs and the split opinions on integration of vampires and Genetic Others into human society. However, the comparison stops there. This novel was interesting, unique, and had a good blend of science, technology, and adventure to keep me going. I literally did not put this book down once, and finished it in a record 4 hours!

The main character, Phoebe, is a force to be reckoned with. She is smart, funny, and spunky as hell – she was the ultimate badass. She reacted like any sane person in times of danger and always had a witty comeback. In essence, she was an amazing protagonist that anyone would love. The other characters in this story worked very well in conjunction with the protagonist, and complimented her in the right way. The only character sketch that I didn’t enjoy was that of the main antagonist; it was a little too “mob” like for my taste. But even then, it just added to the comedy of the scene, and didn’t take away from the story.

While the story was quite humorous at times, there was also enough seriousness and intrigue to keep me from dismissing this story as “fluff.” Genetic experimentation, military weaponization, secret rituals… this novel had a bit of everything and developed them very well. Every time something new was discovered, I wanted to know how Phoebe would deal with it, what the aftermath of this knowledge would be, and how this fact would be used to take the story further. And the author delivered on all of those counts.

Overall, this novel is funny, intelligent, and intriguing. I am so glad that I decided to read this book, and I am extremely excited to read the sequel! If you are looking for an urban supernatural story with a lot of wit and and suspense, then don’t pass on this novel!

Happy reading ~

All Things Cease to Appear by Elizabeth Brundage

I first came upon this novel in early 2016, and I borrowed it, finding its premise intriguing. However, I was unable to get through it. Not because it was bad or anything, but because this was a long, drawn out novel that requires a good amount of time and patience from the reader. And I just didn’t have that time. I decided to give it another shot now that I have a little more leeway in my schedule, and I actually got through it all in one day. Here is my review:

One winter afternoon, George Clare comes back from work to his home in upstate New York to find his wife murdered and their daughter, 3-year old Frannie, alone in the house. He immediately takes his daughter and runs to his closest neighbour and asks them to call the cops. When the police arrive, they take in the crime scene and the brutal state of the body, before taking in George as a suspect. George’s parents swoop in and rescue him from the police cell, but the cops are still not convinced of his innocence. However, there is no evidence to hold George and soon the investigation stalls to a halt. Throughout the story, we get glimpses of people, both professionally and personally, and it takes more than 20 years for justice to be served. With its vignettes on marriage and life, we see the various ways that a family – and even an entire community – can be scarred by tragedy.

I enjoyed this novel immensely. The prose was absolutely beautiful, and the story left me speechless. Although it was slow-paced and mentioned a lot of philosophy and art (neither of which I am too fascinated by), everything made sense and fell into place in an enjoyable way. I loved reading from multiple perspectives, even when there were story lines that had nothing to do with the main crime. I felt that those random insights into the lives of others in the community gave the novel more depth. Many reviewers have complained about the fact that there are no quotations used in the entire book, thereby making it hard to see what is a description or thought versus something someone actually said. While I also faced some difficulty in that aspect, I could appreciate the effect it created; it made it more clear how fine of a line there is between our inner misgivings and feelings and our outward behaviour and words. And this line was different for all of the characters, so it actually helped me see them as unique entities. There was a supernatural aspect to this novel, that was an interesting touch, but did not really have that much of a purpose and was perhaps unnecessary. Overall, however, I found this novel to be absolutely fantastic and I wouldn’t change one thing. This novel makes you feel and think differently and deeply, and if you are in the mood for a story that will suck you in and change you afterwards, then you should definitely give this one a try!

Happy reading ~